Yup, that’s me jumping on the bullet journal bandwagon…look at me go! But seriously, I stumbled onto this new (to me at least) concept very recently and its as if it was made for me. I love making lists…I’m pretty much the queen of them. But the truth of the matter is that they build up, look messy or I just can’t find them.
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So I ordered a bullet journal (aka BuJo), some templates, the OG book on the system and some cute fancy pens to begin my masterpiece. Step 1 is figuring out how to do this properly, which starts with me reading the Bullet Journal Method book and having a Timmies coffee (with the vague hope of winning on roll up the rim). If you want to learn more about the concepts and guidelines for starting your own bullet journal, I would strongly suggest you check out www.bulletjounal.com or get the book.
What is bullet journalling?
So before we jump too far into this I guess we should review the basics! The current Bujo craze (that’s what all the cool kids call a bullet journal, a Bujo) was created by Ryder Carroll (that’s his name in gold on that book up there). As the story goes, Ryder suffered from attention deficit disorder as a child. He created the bullet journal method in college to help him move past his learning disability. Here is a great video by Ryder that gives you a super quick overview of bullet journaling.
Which bullet journal should you buy?
As with anything nowadays there is a multitude of options out there. You can choose from the ridiculously expensive to the “how is it this cheap?” versions. As this is my first foray into bullet journaling I opted to go to the source and get the one that started it all. I ordered the nordic green one from bulletjournal.com. However, before I fully committed I did have a few I was checking out on Amazon. I narrowed it down to between this one and this one. They are definitely cheaper than the one I went with.
My general approach to new things or recipes if to try to experience it as it was intended and then pivot after if I think it is necessary. The reason I ultimately ended up going with the one from www.bulletjournal.com was the dot-grid system and the size. The dot-grid system allows for a lot of flexibility, more than lines would in my opinion. Which size of bullet journal you should buy is up to you. I wanted to have mine with me all the time and this one fits perfectly into my bag (8.25″ x 5.75″), so that was a deciding factor for me.
Which pens and accessories should you get for your bullet journal?
Again this is a decision you need to make for yourself as it may depend on what you will be including in your journal. For me, knowing I want to focus on homesteading things, I had a few ideas in my little head. I chose some stencils that were pretty cheap and I thought would work best. That said, amazon is just littered in them so there are loads to choose from! I also wanted to pick up some of those cute little bullet journal pens to ensure my BuJo game was strong. So after some online research I decided to go with these ones. There were little, fine line and had a good variety of colours.
With my new-found knowledge in hand, I sat down to thinking about how best to apply this to my micro homesteading venture. Using a bullet journal for homesteading is a powerful organizational tool and a few things came to mind straight away. So this is what I have come up with so far…
- Square foot gardening layout
- Seed starting guide (or you can use my downloadable one)
- Chores (daily, monthly, yearly)
- DIYs (like the cute little shoe tray I am planning to make for the back door)
- Canning methods
- Cooking conversions and things like how long should you cook a chicken
- A few other non-homesteading things such as reducing debt, blog post ideas, learning some of that fancy lettering and my goals for 2020
The things you can track in a bullet journal are pretty much endless. It really just depends on what is important to you. Lots of people use them to track their moods, debt reduction, daily life, weight loss…the list goes on.
But for me it is mostly about my micro homesteading journey, so let me walk you through how I am setting up my Bujo. I am taking some time to figure it all out BEFORE I put pen to paper, as I don’t want to regret how it is organized.
1. Use a bullet journal to plan your garden
I love using the bullet journal to plant out my whole garden layout. This was key this year as I just put in two huge 12-foot x 4-foot raised beds. I know I want to have a fence around them at some point and I also wanted to incorporate the arbour The Hubby’s grandfather built for us for our wedding. So I sat down with my bullet journal and planned it all out. Actually, there were multiple iterations, the first one had 4 raised beds and the final one ended up with three. I just find the dot/grid pattern the bullet journal features are perfect for this sort of thing.
I really did find it helpful to be able to plan out multiple iterations of my new raised bed garden. The grid pattern helped me keep everything to scale so that I could see how different raised bed orientations would fit within the space I had allocated. Once decided I set about building my raised beds. I still have to add in the wood chip covering (all the orange on the picture above) for the walkways which I will complete very soon. Next year I am hoping to have it fenced off with a cute picket fence.
2. Use a bullet journal to make detailed plant notes
This year I want to start making more detailed notes about the plants I am growing. Ok wait, that’s a lie. This year I want to start taking notes on my plants. Every other year I just grow things and then don’t take enough learning’s from the whole process. So this year I am planning to do better. One way I am doing this is by making detailed notes on each of the varieties of heirloom plants I am growing. Initially, I had utopian dreams of beautiful illustrations on each page and then after one crappy drawing of an onion I gave up on that for this year.
I plan to have a page for each type of vegetable and then I note down the varieties I am growing. Here are a few things you could note about the different varieties:
- How the fared (or didn’t) against common garden pests.
- Time to start seeds
- When to set them out
- Harvest dates
- How many to grow per square foot
- Likelihood to grow again
- Notes about the variety
3. Use a bullet journal for square foot gardening
Not only are bullet journals great for planning the layout of your garden, but they are also top-notch for square foot planting. The grid in the bullet journal is perfect for this. My beds are quite big so I was only able to make the squares 2×2. If your beds are smaller it would be ideal to make them big enough on the grid to leverage the grid to indicate where to plant each seed. I attempted to mark them in (you can see it showing through on the page above. But then I found it was hard to indicate what was in each square. So I redrew it and just noted the name of each item and the number indicating how many per square foot I was going to plant.
4. Use a bullet journal to track planting by month
As I’ve mentioned a few times already, at least for me, using a bullet journal for homesteading is all about getting organized. This leads me to use it to keep track of all the things I plant in my garden and when they need to be started, their growing season length and harvest time. Once again the grid is king for this as I used a bar graph method of tracking these things.
5. Use a bullet journal for daily, weekly and monthly chores
If you are a homesteader then you are well versed in the art of chores. Not to say that other mere mortals don’t have chores but homesteaders take it to the next level. Making bread, tending to animals or making your own cleaning products takes time and organization. So what better way to help organize everything than by breaking it down in daily, weekly and monthly chores?
6. Keep a seed inventory
As a micro homesteader, I am constantly trying to up my homesteading game. I started saving my own seeds last year but this season I intent to ramp it up dramatically. It’s a great way to save money and become more self-sufficient. You just need to ensure that all your seeds are heirloom seeds and not hybrids. Even if you don’t save your seeds keeping a seed inventory is a great thing as you can use it as a guide for what you need to reorder.
All you need to do is to keep a list of seeds you have on hand vs seeds you need to save/reorder. If you are saving seeds this is key as if you are. running short on a certain variety you will need to ensure to set some fruit aside (peppers, melons, squash, tomatoes, etc) or alternatively let the variety go to seed (radish, onions, lettuce etc).
7. Use a bullet journal for garden lists/collections
I love lists! Another way to use your bullet journal for homesteading purposes is to use it to keep track of all your lists. There is no limit to the types of lists you can keep. Some great ideas are:
- Things to grow next year
- Things to buy for the garden next year
- Pests you dealt with and how to be better prepared next year
- Things you need to build (who doesn’t love a good DIY)
- Gardening book or homesteading books to buy
- Things NOT to do next year
- Gardening or homesteading YouTube channels to check out
- List of your favourite seed companies or new ones to try
8. Plan out your homestead goals
What are your homestead goals for the year? Do you want to approach it month by month? Maybe quarter by quarter makes more sense? Do you want to start canning? Making your own bread? Starting a vermicomposting bin in your back yard? The sky is the limit with your homesteading goals, but keeping it all organized can help your dreams comes to fruition.
So there you have eight ideas about how to use a bullet journal for homesteading. I’m sure there are countless others, but these are some of the ways I use my own. Do you use a bullet journal? What ways do you use it for your garden?